April 27, 2020
BMA Responds to Global Pandemic by Making Exhibition of Major Works by Acclaimed Artist Candice Breitz Accessible on Newly Developed Website
BALTIMORE, MD (April 27, 2020)— The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) announced today the launch of a new microsite to house and make publicly accessible nearly all of the videos that had been installed for its major spring exhibition, Candice Breitz: Too Long, Didn’t Read, which closed several days after its opening in March in accordance with health and safety guidelines. The site features Breitz’s powerful multichannel videos TLDR (2017), which explores a series of global debates surrounding sex work, and Love Story (2016), which contrasts narrations of the experiences of six individuals impacted by the global refugee crisis. Together, the works frame critical questions about systems of privilege and the ways in which the 24-hour news cycle, social media, and celebrity culture shape our understanding of the world and who we believe and trust. To foster dialogue on these critical themes, the site also includes opportunities for viewers to upload brief videos that respond to the two questions, “Who do you listen to?” and “Why do they get your attention?” The audience-generated videos will also be viewable as an ongoing archive on the site at artbma.org/tldr. The online presentation of the exhibition will remain on view through July 31, 2020.
“As an institution, we think it is essential for us to continue to provide authentic and interesting cultural experiences to our community. The BMA was in the lucky position to have opened an exhibition that is both incredibly topical and also particularly well poised for the digital universe. With the museum unable to physically welcome visitors, we collaborated with Candice to create a new platform that both honors the nature and artistry of the work and makes it accessible to audiences at home,” said Christopher Bedford, BMA Dorothy Wagner Wallis Director. “We look forward to the conversations the site fosters about empathy, truth, and trust—critical underlying themes in Candice’s work. We are also committed to finding and creating other avenues for transmitting and translating the in-gallery experience. This is an essential aspect of our work in this moment and likely will continue to be well beyond.”
Candice Breitz: Too Long, Didn’t Read is curated by Asma Naeem, the BMA’s Eddie C. and C. Sylvia Brown Chief Curator, and the online presentation was created by Melanie Martin, BMA Chief Innovation Officer, and Kojo Duncan, BMA Senior Application Developer, with support from Verónica Betancourt, Director of Interpretation. The exhibition is generously sponsored by the Alvin and Fanny B. Thalheimer Exhibition Endowment Fund and The Hardiman Family Endowment Fund. 2020 Vision is generously sponsored by the Ms. Foundation for Women.
As part of its growing digital offerings, the BMA has also created virtual gallery walks of several other exhibitions currently installed as part of its 2020 Vision initiative highlighting female-identifying artists. Virtual gallery walks are currently available on the exhibitions page of the BMA’s website, for Zackary Drucker: Icons; Valerie Maynard: Lost and Found; Jo Smail: Flying with Remnant Wings; Shinique Smith: Grace Stands Beside; and SHAN Wallace: 410.
About Candice Breitz: Too Long, Didn’t Read
Presented side-by-side for the first time, both TLDR and Love Story examine how our contemporary obsession with celebrity and the explosion of media have distorted our ability to connect with real-world humanitarian issues and empathize with the experiences of those living on the margins of society. The versions of these works presented online include nearly 30 hours of content that captures Breitz’s essential voice as an artist and interrogator of contemporary culture.
In the two-part multichannel video TLDR (2017), Breitz collaborated with a community of sex workers in Cape Town, South Africa, to tell their stories and capture the bitter, often misplaced, cultural debates surrounding sex work and the rights of those working in the trade. The first video features a 12-year-old narrator telling the story of a clash between Amnesty International, which began advocating for the global decriminalization of sex work in 2015, and a coalition of Hollywood celebrities and sex work abolitionists. A modern Greek chorus of sex workers animates the narration through dance movements and the use of protest signs. The story is also accompanied by a soundtrack rich in protest songs and emoji-inflected digital imagery, drawing on the alluring visual tactics employed by the Internet.
This stylized presentation is followed online by 10 intimate interviews that capture the real-life struggle of sex workers to attain basic human rights. Through this intense juxtaposition, Breitz highlights the incredible ability of celebrities to assert power in a dialogue in which they have no experience or study, thus distorting the public conversation and leaving those most affected to deal with the ramifications. The title is the acronym for “too long; didn’t read,” and references our limited capacity to engage with complicated and layered subject matter—choosing instead to absorb only short-form and glossed-over information.
Love Story (2016) features two distinct presentations of the experiences of six individuals deeply impacted by the global refugee crisis. In the first version, actors Alec Baldwin and Julianne Moore, each seated in front of a green screen, perform a series of fragments excerpted from a set of first-person accounts, totaling approximately 74 minutes. The second iteration includes nearly 20 hours of interviews with four of the six subjects: José Maria João, a former child soldier from Angola; Professor Luis Nava, a political dissident from Venezuela; Farah Abdi Mohamed, a young atheist from Somalia; and Sarah Ezzat Mardini, a young woman who escaped war-torn Syria.
Candice Breitz (b. 1972, South Africa) is an acclaimed Berlin-based artist whose moving-image installations have been shown internationally. Breitz’s work has been presented in numerous solo exhibitions, including the Kunstmuseum Stuttgart (Germany); National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Palais de Tokyo (Paris); The Power Plant (Toronto); Moderna Museet (Stockholm); White Cube (London); Wexner Center for the Arts (Ohio); ACMI / The Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne); and the South African National Gallery (Cape Town). Breitz’s work has also been included in many group exhibitions and biennales around the world. Additionally, her work has also been featured at the Sundance Film Festival (New Frontier, 2009) and the Toronto International Film Festival (David Cronenberg: Transformation, 2013). Among the many museum collections with Breitz’s works are the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (both in New York); San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa); Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus (Munich, Germany); Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto); FNAC / Fonds national d’art contemporain (France); M+ / Museum of Visual Culture (Hong Kong); National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne); MONA / Museum of Old and New Art (Tasmania, Australia); Museum of Fine Arts (Boston); and MAXXI / Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (Rome, Italy). Breitz holds degrees from the University of the Witwatersrand (Johannesburg, South Africa), the University of Chicago, and
Columbia University (NY) and has participated in the Whitney Museum’s Independent Studio Program and led the Palais de Tokyo’s Le Pavillon residency as a visiting artist in 2005–2006. She has been a tenured professor at the Hochschule für Bildende Künste in Braunschweig since 2007.
About the Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914, the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) inspires people of all ages and backgrounds through exhibitions, programs, and collections that tell an expansive story of art—challenging long-held narratives and embracing new voices. Our outstanding collection of more than 95,000 objects spans many eras and cultures and includes the world’s largest public holding of works by Henri Matisse; one of the nation’s finest collections of prints, drawings, and photographs; and a rapidly growing number of works by contemporary artists of diverse backgrounds. The museum is also distinguished by a neoclassical building designed by American architect John Russell Pope and two beautifully landscaped gardens featuring an array of modern and contemporary sculpture. The BMA is located three miles north of the Inner Harbor, adjacent to the main campus of Johns Hopkins University, and has a community branch at Lexington Market. General admission is free so that everyone can enjoy the power of art.